During this time of great need in our globe, it’s important that we adjust our thinking, prayer life, and speech to the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. Right now, God is extending His perfect love to cast out all anxiety and bring peace. Psalm 91 has been giving us hope and courage to trust that God’s protection is a promise we can stand on. Our pastor Bill Johnson went through this psalm with us recently, unpacking the promises given to us and ushering us into a greater place of hope and peace. We encourage you to open to Psalm 91 and go through it with us, allowing God’s Word to bring you to a place of rest and focus on the Presence of God.
Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”
God is our shelter. More than a wonderful metaphor this is our reality, and when fully embraced, it becomes a lifestyle. This Psalm is an invitation to meet a person who is our shelter. As we continue to put this truth before us, we can develop a lifestyle of consciousness and awareness of the abiding presence of the person of the Holy Spirit.
God is our shadow. A shadow is a dark place. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Sometimes it’s dark because he’s so close.” If we turn our attention to the abiding presence of the Spirit of God, even when it’s dark, we can know it’s only a testimony of His nearness.
Psalm 91:2 “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
This verse can be turned into a personal declaration for yourself and to speak to other people. It’s vital for us to guard how we speak to one another and to our communities.
During this time of great fear, we can step in as believers with voices of faith. We don’t have to shame people for being afraid, but we can give them a lifeline. Don’t disregard common sense—wash your hands and be safe—but don’t let common sense be a hiding place for fear. Both hopelessness and hope are contagious—be hope centered.
Isaiah 35 says to speak to those with an anxious heart and tell them to take courage. After that verse 5 says, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will hear.” Breakthrough happens when we are intentional with our speech and we declare what God is saying.
Psalm 91:3 “For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.”
This implies that maybe you got caught in a snare and He’s going to release you. Maybe you are in divine health and maybe you are struggling, but He will deliver you from the snare. It’s not your fault that you got caught in it.
Psalm 91:5-6 “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”
The enemy’s thoughts come like arrows during the day when you’re awake and thinking.
Terror comes at night when you go to bed in fear anticipating that something bad will happen. The Lord is equipping us to take a position with a shield and buckler found in the Word of God, that will absorb what comes at us during the day. That way when it’s time to go to bed we can go to sleep in rest knowing He will defend us.
23 years ago Bill Johnson was awakened in the night with this phrase from the Lord: “He watches over the watch of those who watch for the Lord.”
A watchman is a person positioned on a wall to see what might be coming towards a city. They keep awake at all times to report to the city what is coming. If we watch for the Lord, He will watch over us. We go to sleep with our eyes on Him knowing He will watch on our behalf.
Psalm 91:9-10 “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”
We make the Lord our dwelling place when we learn to live in continuous affection for the person of the Holy Spirit. It’s not just that He protects us, but the closer we stay to His heartbeat the more we know what to do in a moment. When the disciples couldn’t cast out a demon in Mark chapter 9, Jesus said: “This kind only comes out with prayer and fasting.” But how did Jesus cast out the demon when He didn’t pray or fast? Fasting refines our focus to the Kingdom and turning from other appetites. Jesus was in a continuous relationship with God already and had a refined focus on His Father, so He didn’t need to pray or fast. A refined focus doesn’t just protect us from plagues but keeps us in the center of what God is doing on the earth. It makes us an offensive weapon; people who can bring hope into hopeless situations.
Psalm 91:13 “You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.”
This is a passage that Jesus quotes in the gospel of Luke. Here’s an important thought: this whole psalm is about protection until this verse. It says the protected are going to get vindication. The ones who are kept in safety are now released to tread on the powers of darkness that caused disaster in the first place. We aren’t just summoned to pray “O God protect me!” To think that way is almost yielding to the virus. In the life of a believer, to just try and be the safe person is the opposite of our calling and design. The safest place in the Kingdom is the front lines of battle. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
Psalm 91:14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;”
Who does deliverance come to? The people who set their love on Him. This is an invitation by God to learn what it is to fix the affections of our hearts on Him and to be anchored in Him continuously.
What does it mean to set your love on God? That you’ve received His love. “We love him because he first loved us.” We are loving Him with what He gave us. When we opened up our hearts to receive His love, He gave us the capacity to love Him back. In scripture, we see instructions for the husband to love the wife and the wife to love the husband. If the husband does a good job loving the wife, then the wife doesn’t need to be commanded to love him in return.
We are to continually re-sign the contract by the ongoing resetting of our affection for Him. Maybe you need to set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself. Every time we turn my affection towards Him, suddenly there is a manifest presence of God upon us for whatever environment we walk into.
Our pastor Bill Johnson used to stop in a certain store fairly often, and before he walked he always stood at the door to turn his affection toward God, making sure he felt God’s presence. One day the owner pulled Bill aside and said, “Something happens when you walk into the room.” As we continue to set our affections on Him we will start to see and think from heavenly places, and it’s that kind of person that can tell a disease to die.
Psalm 91:14 “I will set him on high, because he has known My name.”
We are out of reach of the enemy but not out of sight. That’s why God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God loves to torment the devil. Any situation where you feel like you’re under heavy assault, if you refine your focus, you’ll find the table of fellowship. If all you see is the enemy, get back to what God says about your life and find the table of communion. The table is our place of great strength, confidence, life, and health.
Psalm 91:16 “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”
Continuous answers to prayer are what we were designed for; not to have them is abnormal. That needs to matter to us when we pray instead of assuming if it doesn’t happen it’s not the will of God. When the disciples couldn’t cast the demon out of the child, Jesus delivers the child and says, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” The disciples were stunned when they couldn’t cast out the demon because they had a history of success. When they didn’t get an answer, they took Jesus aside and asked Him what to do. When we don’t see an answer we stop praying. It’s supposed to bother us enough that we look at the lack of the breakthrough as an abnormality. Take Jesus aside. Take a day this week to fast and cry out to the Lord, hone your focus on what God is doing. This is our greatest opportunity for advancement.
Take time to find continuous rest and assurance in His Presence, and from there posture yourself with faith. Find out what God is saying, and make bold decrees and prayers. God has set the stage for an explosion of His power to take place, and we’ve been called to be an influence in the midst of calamity.